8 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Accounting Firm

Wed, Jun 9, 2021


Choosing a new accountant should be like choosing a new colleague and a positive step forward for your business. That’s why there are a number of things you should ask and take into account before making your decision.

What do you want from an accountant?

Before you ask accounting firms questions, it’s best to ask yourself this question first – what do you want from an accountant? By jotting down a few notes, this will help to narrow down your initial search and give you an idea of what to look for.

There’s a lot of things to consider, such as, does location matter to you? Times have changed and since the coronavirus pandemic people are putting less importance on postcodes.

At Portt & Co we chose to start remote working long before covid and were using Zoom before the phrase ‘you’re on mute’ became popular. With the latest cloud technology, you can access your accounts on the go, meaning that your accountant doesn’t need to be on the same street, let alone the same town or even county.

Something to consider is your own values and beliefs. When picking an accountancy firm take a look at other areas of their website to find more about their background and values. It’s also worth seeing if they have a social media page, this will give you another insight.

Can you tell me about your background?

As we mentioned, choosing an accounting firm is like choosing a new colleague, don’t be afraid to ask questions around the background and history of the company.

Look for elements that relate to your business and give you reassurance that you’re speaking with someone who is passionate about their own business too.

This is also a great opportunity to get to see more of their personality, it’s important to find someone that you like. Gone are the days when accountants wore suits, carried briefcases and were considered ‘boring’, in fact it’s very, very rare you’ll see us in a suit and we’re far from boring!

What qualifications do you hold?

Like any other business, accounting firms will have a variety of people within their team, ranging from apprentices to senior members of staff. You need to ensure that whoever is dealing with your accounts is experienced, skilled and is overseen by the right people.

We would advise you to look for a chartered certified accountant (like us), this means they are members of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Chartered certified accountants are trained to the highest level and to think critically and strategically.

What industries do you specialise in?

Most accounting firms will specialise in a few industries, for example, here at Portt & Co we specialise in the food and drink industry, but also support clients from professional services, technology companies, manufacturing and retail.

When looking for an accounting firm it’s useful to find someone who has knowledge of your industry. This means that they will have similar clients and will be able to offer you guidance based on first-hand experience.

Can you look at my current accounting system?

A good accounting firm will want to find out everything about your business, including what your current systems and processes look like.

One of our key aims is to make the lives of business owners less stressful and give them the tools to be more successful. In order to achieve this, we listen, listen and listen some more, and then we make suggestions which will benefit us both. Systems and processes are key to this, by utilising cloud technology, timely (and frustrating) tasks can be automated – saving time and resource.

Which accounting software do you use and why?

Most firms will have a preferred software for their accounting practices, but it’s important to ask them why. This will give you a better understanding of the software (if you’re not familiar yourself) and how this can benefit your business.

Most accounting software providers have a partner system to help you identify firms that have more experience and knowledge.

At Portt & Co we only use the best accounting software for small businesses, Xero. We signed up to Xero when we first started out and have been awarded the Gold Partner badge.

You can find out more about how Xero can benefit your small business by reading our blog.

How will you add value to my business?

You don’t just want your accountant to tick the accounting and tax compliance boxes, you want them to genuinely care and add value to your business.

In order to find an accountant who will really add value, you need to consider all of the other questions in this blog. You should look for a firm that specialise in your industry so that they are experienced in risks and opportunities.

Your accountant can help you with critical data-driven insights to aid you with decision-making about the future of your business. This is why it’s important to choose someone who will speak freely and give their honest, professional opinion, not just someone who will nod or shake their head in the right places.

What other services do you provide?

If you’ve been impressed with the answers to your other questions, it’s time to think what else you need support with.

At Portt & Co we can give you the whole package as an outsourced finance function, which includes payroll and a finance director service.

If you’re not looking for the whole package, we can tailor this to suit your business needs – just fill out our easy enquiry form and we’ll get back to you.

Don’t just take our word for it though, visit our testimonials page to see what our clients have to say.